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Stability of Pillars in Drowned Mines

Stability of Pillars in Drowned Mines

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Published by Mäeinstituut
Doctoral School of Energy and Geotechnology, Pärnu, Estonia, 2013
Doctoral School of Energy and Geotechnology, Pärnu, Estonia, 2013

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Published by: Mäeinstituut on Feb 11, 2013
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Stability of Pillars in Drowned Mines

Merle Otsmaa Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia) merleotsmaa@gmail.com
Abstract – Mining with room-and-pillar method causes quasi-stability of ground surface. In this paper is under consideration what happens when the mine workings will be filled with water. Does the water have a weakening or supporting influence on pillars?

III. SUPPORTING INFLUENCE OF WATER It is known that the piezometrical table of Keila-Kukruse water aquifer of Ordovician period in Estonian oil shale area is 0.2 – 28.2 m from ground surface, in Nabala-Rakvere water aquifer +0.1 – 13.2 m [3]. According to filling of closed mines with water the question has arisen, which is the water’s influence on pillars and stability of ground surface. On the grounds of data of the collapses registered till now it is possible to contend that spontaneous collapses of mining block take place at greater depth than 35 m, which is met in Ahtme, Viru and Estonia mines [6]. At the same time, fear has been expressed towards possible water blows, which could take place in closed mines if the water table is not high enough. The buoyant force exerted by the fluid, which, according to Archimedes’ principle, is equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the body. [7]. Buoyant force is exerting pressure on working’s roof [5]. F=pS, where p is pressure of fluid and S is the area of roof. p=ρhg, (2) (1)

I. INTRODUCTION In the Estonian oil shale area mined with room-and-pillar method there is a problem with quasi-stability of ground surface. The pillars left in working can unexpectedly break causing the sinking of ground surface. At the beginning of using room-and-pillar mining technology underground pillars had to meet the requirement, they had to stay about 2 years which could guarantee safe work surroundings in an exploitable mining block. At the beginning of 1990’s in addition to work safety larger attention was directed also to the stability of ground surface. Therefore the miners began to leave bigger pillars underground what could stay forever. II. CLOSED MINES Up to now operation is finished in some ten mines [1]: Kukruse – in year 1967, Käva-2 – 1973, mine nr 2 – 1974, mine nr 4 – 1975, Kiviõli – 1988, Tammiku – 1999, Sompa – 2000, Kohtla – 2001 and Ahtme – 2002. After finishing of mining works and pumping out of water, hydrological regime will change essentially in mined areas. Mines will be filled with water and the depression cone of ground water will disappear. Preliminary investigations of the aftereffect of closed mines show that the lowered ground water table will be restored already during as few years. Only in northern part of the oil shale area, the Kukruse mine and some northern workings of Käva mine will remain dry. Table 1 shows an example of restoring of water tables [4]. In closed Tammiku, Sompa, Ahtme and Kohtla mine the water table is restored during 3 – 4 years after closing. Nevertheless, it is to expect the complete restoring of water table only after closing the neighboring mines.

where h is height of fluid column, ρ is density of the fluid and g is gravitational field strength. For example in Tammiku mine the height of water column is 2.8+ (23-2.4) =3.4 m p=1000 kg/m3×3.4m×9.8m/s2=33320 kgf/m2 At the depth of 23 m, when factor of safety is 4.9 and the width of room 8 m, the length of side of a pillar with squared cross-section is 5.7 m. In this case the area of supportable roof around each pillar is S= (5.7+8)2-5.72=155.7 m2 F=33320×155.7=51.9 MN The force of gravity influencing a pillar F= ρgV, where V is volume of overburden. F=2500×9.8× (5.7+8)2×23=1062.3 MN (3)

TABLE I WATER TABLE IN CLOSED MINES Mine Tammiku Sompa Kohtla Ahtme Viru Abs height of ground surface, m 67.4 62.1 51.1 63.8 69.4 Overburden thickness, m 23 23 15 37 42 Closing year of the mine 1999 2000 2001 2002 Abs height of water table in 2000, m 35.4 22.6 34.9 20.5 24.0 Abs height of water table in 2004, m 47.8 42.0 41.6 26.8 26.4 Abs height of water table in 2008, m 45.0 41.8 40.7 42.0 24.6 Water table from ground surface in 2008, m 22.4 20.3 10.4 21.8 44.8


The calculations show that in the present case force of gravity on pillars under the influence of buoyant force decreases about 5%. The size of buoyant force depends on the height of water column. Let us suppose, that water has risen in mines up to ground surface. Then force of gravity on pillars is under the influence of buoyant force almost a third or 1.4 times smaller. If the depth of mine increases, it is needed to attain a required stability of pillars to increase their cross section area. Thank to buoyant force pillars can be essentially smaller. Drawing this figure the water tables from ground surface are considered to be 2 m. Buoyant force depends on the height of water column. The height of water column in its turn is bound with the overburden thickness. In case of thinner overburden the load diminishes under the influence of buoyant force to a greater extent. Figure 2 shows how many times the load on pillars will decrease in different depths.
Increasing of pillar's cross section
140 Square of pillars cross section, m2 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Overburden thickness, m Increasing of pillar's cross section by growing of depth Increasing of pillar's cross section in conditions of buoyant force of ground water

Diminishing of load by different water tables
1,5 Dim inishing of load in tim es 1,4 1,3 1,2 1,1 1 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 Overburden thickness, m water in depth of 20m water in depth of 10 m water in depth of 2 m

Fig. 3. Diminishing of load by different water table.

IV. WEAKENING INFLUENCE OF WATER During the 1970’s the scientists of VNIMI investigated the influence of moisture on compressive strength of rocks. Experiments were carried through with oil shale of Leningrad deposit. Estonian oil shale is also a part of the Baltic oil shale basin. Therefore we have a reason to suppose that the results of these experiments are valid also for our oil shale. It was made certain that compressive strength of rock decreases in water saturated conditions, among this the compressive strength of oil shale 1.4 – 1.7 times [2]. The larger the clay concentration of rock is the more it weakens under influence of water. In Estonia, the limestone concentration in oil shale increases southwards. The compressive strength of limestone diminishes in water saturated conditions 1.1 – 1.25 times, on the occasion of marl and clayey limestone no more than 1.4 times. Thus we can suppose that southwards (in Estonia mine) oil shale is more lasting in relation to weakening influence of wet. V. CONCLUSIONS Taking into account the above-stated, we can say that weakening of water saturated rock is compensated by buoyant force of water. It is affirmed by fact that pillars for which permanence time was guaranteed for 2 years are mostly staying to this day. In mines filled with water, spontaneous collapses have not been observed. ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Fig. 1. Increasing of pillar’s cross section by deepening mine.

Decreasing of load is influenced also by the width of the room. In case of bigger rooms the diminishing of load is bigger and with increasing of the depth this difference grows. Figure 2 represents a graph where the depth of water table from ground surface is 2 m. With this water table buoyant force lessens the load on pillars to the maximal extent at the depth of 20 m. If the depth is either more or less than this, the influence of buoyant force decreases.
Diminishing of load on pillars
Diminishing of load in times 1,5 1,45 1,4 1,35 1,3 1,25 1,2 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Ovenburden thickness, m W idth of room 8 m W idth of room 6 m W idth of room 10 m

Many thanks to Estonian Science Foundation grant No. 8123 (2010 – 2013) „Backfill and waste management in Estonian oil shale industry”, grant No. 9018 (2012 – 2015) “Mine collapses in NE Estonia – detection, identifications and causes” and European Social Fund (project “Doctoral School of Energy and Geotechnology II”). REFERENCES
[1] [2] [3] http://www.keo.eco.edu.ee/failid/kogumik9/3ptk.pdf G. A. Ivanov, A. T. Karmanski and V. A. Andrianov “Vlijanije vlažnosti na protchnostnõje svoistva gornõh porod”, Gorjutchije Slantsõ, vol. 6, pp. 1-7, 1981. (in Russian). K. Erg, V. Karu, H. Lind and H. Torn, “Mine pool water and energy production”. 4th International Symposium „Topical problems of education in the field of electrical and power engineering” Doctoral School of Energy and Geotechnology, Kuressaare, 15-20.01.2007. V. Karu, “Potential Usage of Underground Mined Areas in Estonian Oil Shale Deposit”, Dissertation, 2012. http://ppk.edu.ee:82/wpcontent/uploads/2011/01/Rohk_energia.pdf A. Adamson, E. Reinsalu and A. Toomik, “Võimalikud protsessid suletud kaevandustes”,2001. http://www.ene.ttu.ee/maeinstituut/konver/v.html M. Alonso, E. J. Finn, Physics, pp. 130-134, 1992.

Fig. 2. Diminishing of load on pillars at different depths.

If the water table from ground surface is deeper, the maximum point of decreasing of load and intensity changes (figure 3). If the water table is 2 m from ground surface, the maximum load on pillars decreases 1.43 times at the depth of 20 m. If water table is 10 m from ground surface, the load on pillars decreases the most 1.3 times at the depth of 55 m. If water table is in depth of 20 m the load on pillars decreases ultimately 1.23 times in a mine 70 m in depth. In mines of depth of some hundred meters, the influence of buoyant force conforms and decreases till it becomes practically nonexistent. The biggest is the effect of buoyant force in shallow mines (up to 70 m) and in case of higher water tables.

[4] [5] [6] [7]


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